Kanye West’s “Power” video is one for the ages. Scratch that, it’s not a music video, it’s a portrait of “Power.” A moving picture of epic proportions. But how do you visually portray a portrait of power?
First, you call up video artist Marco Brambilla and convince him to collaborate on a hip-hop project. Remember that “Civilization” video that was making rounds on the Internet last year? That was a Brambilla masterpiece. It depicts a continuous reel of heaven and hell in one of the most compelling videos I’ve ever seen.Then you have Brambilla draw up a vision for an apocalyptic video.
“Power” opens with Kanye standing majestically with a heavy gold chain around his neck. The weight of the world literally rests on his shoulders. The camera zooms out in one slow, continuous take to reveal him in a classical structure, surrounded by female maids – some semi-nude, some completely nude. Some are wearing devil horns, which will surely stir up some ridiculous Illuminati rumors. As the camera pans out further, we see the sword of Damocles precariously hovering over Kanye’s head. As two executioners prepare to strike him with a blade from each side, the video cuts off abruptly.
“Portrait of Power” is rife with symbols and historical references. The one I’d like to point out is Philippe Halsman’s Dali Atomicus portrait (above), which Brambilla himself cited as a major influence on the “Power” video. BGDB has a thoroughly detailed breakdown of the symbols in this video if you’d like to read more.
As a side note, thanks to Kanye for reminding us to watch music videos the right way. Thanks to MTV for reminding us of why we stopped watching.